Paint your dreams

Ravenous Wolves, oil on canvas, 24X30, $3,478.00 framed includes shipping and handling in continental US.

I was fishing around on my desk and found an old Zoom class outline with a scrawled note that read, “paint your dreams.” Alas, I can’t remember the context or who said it, but it struck me as wise advice.

What does “paint your dreams” even mean?

“Paint your dreams” is used metaphorically to convey the idea of visualizing our aspirations and goals.

When someone says “paint your dreams,” they’re encouraging you to articulate your dreams as a first step towards making them a reality. But here I’m talking about literal painting: a visual exploration of your hopes and dreams.

I don’t think it would work for our nighttime dreams, which often have a menacing overtone. “I dream of painting and then I paint my dream,” Vincent van Gogh wrote. That was good for art, but possibly bad for his mental health. Anyways, most dreams are senseless to everyone but the dreamer. I can’t imagine they’d be more entertaining visually than they are when recounted over breakfast.

That doesn’t mean we can’t paint with a dreamlike quality; Van Gogh and Marc Chagall were both masters at this. But I suspect my student meant we are supposed to paint our aspirations.

Lonely Cabin, 8X10, oil on archival canvasboard, $652 includes shipping and handling in continental US.

Do I even allow myself to dream?

Most of us gussy up our dreams in practical terms: our bucket list. Worse, our dreams can be guilt-driven, like “spend more time with my elderly Mom.” Neither of these are gut dreams.

It’s very hard for me to drill past that. I have a very satisfying life. I love my work, my family, and my church. Still, I have some things I’ve never made time for, including:

  • Recover my singing voice, which I’ve neglected for the past 35 years;
  • Learn to preach simply, logically, and convincingly;
  • Do more traveling just for fun.
  • Get strong enough to climb high peaks in a single bound.

It’s easy to articulate our dreams when we’re young; it’s harder when we’ve lived some of them, disposed of some, and realized that others are unattainable. (My career as a ballerina was over before it started.) If this exercise goes no farther, it’s gotten me to articulate what my dreams are.

Midnight at the Wood Lot, oil on archival canvasboard, $1449.00 framed includes shipping and handling within continental US.

How would I paint those things?

My friend and student Cassie Sano painted a pair of songbirds for my Advanced Painting class this week. (That class is full of bird people. This week we also had a raven discussion and some watercolor ducks.)

Would painting birds help me regain my singing voice? Possibly, because when I first came to the Maine coast I painted boats, and now I get to teach on one annually. I’m painting a scene from my last long ramble in Britain right now. It’s making me excited for my next one, which will be in late May.

Overall, though, I’m much more likely to draw my dreams, since I have notebooks filled with stream-of-consciousness visual ramblings.

Winter lambing, oil on linen, 30X40, $5072 framed, includes shipping and handling in continental US.

What about you?

Can you clearly define what you want to achieve in this life? If so, do you think you can paint that? Do you have the visual language to communicate and reinforce your goals?

My 2024 workshops:

Monday Morning Art School: do you have a return policy?

Seafoam, 9X12, oil on archival canvasboard, $869 framed.

“Have you written about original art sales being final?” a reader asked me this weekend. “Do you ever accept returns? If so, why or why not?”

My late friend Gwendolyn used to regularly shop on what she called ‘The American Plan.” Gwendolyn wasn’t an abuser of the system; she didn’t wear clothes and then try to return them. Instead, she’d bring things home from the mall in a variety of sizes and colors, hoping her family would like something she’d selected. The rest would go back.

Main Street, Owl’s Head, oil on archival canvasboard, $1623 includes shipping and handling in continental US.

American retailing encourages this, with most sellers offering very liberal return policies. That makes sense for large corporations in the highly-competitive world of online consumer goods. It makes less sense for custom goods made by small workshops, like jewelers, painters, or seamstresses.

Before you start selling paintings, you should think through your return policy, or you may be asked to do something you’re not willing to accommodate.

Since I have a commerce-enabled website, Google requires that I have a clearly-articulated return policy for both my paintings and my workshops, which you can read here. Without it, Google won’t rank my website, which means nobody would ever see it.

You determine what your policy is, but I think “no returns at any time, for any reason,” would be unreasonable. Art does occasionally arrive with damaged frames. Even though I always ship with insurance, it’s good customer relations to manage the repair or reimbursement myself.

Apple Tree with Swing, 16X20, oil on archival canvasboard, $2029 framed includes shipping and handling in continental US.

It’s devilishly difficult to photograph paintings. There’s inevitably some difference in color. A person with a very tight color scheme might realize the blue of my ocean doesn’t quite match their couch. I used to worry about this a lot, until I bought some wall paint online during COVID. My husband’s office is beautiful, but it’s not what I saw on my monitor. Nobody can manage color perfectly online because every screen shows color differently. (Then there’s airbrushing and photo enhancement. Although it doesn’t pertain to my paintings, most product photography is enhanced before we ever see it.)

Having said that, I work hard to make accurate photos and I’ve never had a painting returned because it didn’t look like the photo.

The buyer has more responsibility for paintings bought in my gallery or at an event. He or she has thumped the tires and understands the work’s physical presence. There is no reason for the same return policy in a bricks-and-mortar store but whatever it is, it should be posted.

Beautiful Dream, oil on archival canvasboard, $1449 framed includes shipping and handling in continental US.

I and many other gallerists will send a painting ‘on spec’ if asked. That means the customer pays for it up front (as a surety). If they decide they don’t want it, they pay for its return and insurance. The time limit for this must be clearly specified in advance. Two weeks is more than sufficient to realize a painting just doesn’t work.

No matter what your return policy is, your long-term goal should be to keep your client. Start by asking why they want or need to return the item. Once you determine that, you can offer them a more appropriate product for purchase or exchange. For example, in the example I gave above, I’d show them my entire inventory of ocean paintings. (If they didn’t die of boredom, they’d be bound to find something that’s a better match.) Sometimes people simply can’t visualize size, and buy something that’s too small. If that’s the case, offer them a credit toward a larger one, and don’t be afraid to offer them layaway if the price scares them. A painting is a lifetime investment, and we want to do everything possible to help people able to afford art.

My 2024 workshops:

Early Spring on Beech Hill

Early Spring on Beech Hill, oil on canvasboard, Carol L. Douglas, 12X16, $1449 framed includes shipping in continental US.

I climb up Beech Hill every day when I’m at home. It’s not very tall, just 533 feet above sea level, but that is set against the fact that I’m starting at 87 feet above sea level. I like this hike better in the summer, when warm breezes caress my face. I can watch the to-and-fro of sailboats from Rockland harbor and the margins of the blueberry barrens are a panoply of wildflowers. Midwinter isn’t quite as nice, although it is largely free of casual amblers. For the past two days it’s been cold and blustery, with gusts up to 45 MPH.

The path is somewhat protected until you come around the hill to the final rise and there, you’re almost blown off your feet. That’s an improvement over some winters, when the wind has sculpted hip-high drifts with the consistency of concrete.

The other approach to Beech Hill is somewhat steeper.

On a glorious summer morning we will amble but these frigid winter temperatures make us hurry. We’re also in training to ramble in the Yorkshire Dales in May. Our best times for the 4.5-mile hike are just scant of 1:30:00; after that I must break into a jog-trot on the downhill slopes. However, yesterday we brought it in at 1:29:23. You might not be impressed, but that’s not bad for two senior citizens wearing crampons and skidding on ice. Excuse our short victory dance.

I have many friendships that begin and end on that trail. We might stop and chat or just call out “good morning” as we sail by, but this time of year, the only people who are hiking are the true stalwarts. Yesterday, I saw Candace Kuchinski from the windjammer Angelique. She was out with her dog Nicki. “I have a painting of your boat on my easel,” I told her. I love living in a small town.

Beautiful summer day on Beech Hill.

People who don’t live in the north don’t realize how much color there is in a winter’s day, especially at the tail end of the season. The plants start to respond to the longer days and warmer sunlight. Early Spring, Beech Hill is all about that subtle color.

The sod-roofed stone hut at the top was built in 1913-15 by Hans Heisted, a Norwegian immigrant. It was an American-style folly, designed for summer picnics for a wealthy local family. (When the trees are bare, you can just make out a stone well house in the same style on the south slope, but don’t wander down there-that part of the woods is home to porcupines and coyotes.) Its verandah faces the sea, and the short version is a popular tourist hike in summer. In early morning, in early spring, all creation is laid out below you. But my favorite view of it is as you come around the bend and see it peeking over the blueberry barrens, just as I painted it.

Beech Nut in the fog.

Today, Beech Hill Preserve is managed by Coastal Mountains Land Trust, making it accessible to all.

My 2024 workshops:

Naughty trickster cinnamon fern

This is a painting of a large cinnamon fern in the woods. Cinnamon Fern, 9X12, oil on archival canvasboard, $869 framed includes shipping and handling in continental US.
Cinnamon Fern, 9X12, oil on archival canvasboard, $869 framed includes shipping and handling in continental US.

Cinnamon Fern was painted along the Boreal Life Trail at the Paul Smiths’ VIC in the High Peaks of the Adirondacks. It used to be called Bracken Fern, because there was a signposted stand of said ferns along the walk there. However, my friend Steve Johnson told me, “That’s either interrupted fern or cinnamon fern, but it’s not bracken fern.” Then my friend Heather’s father took me on a fern walk on the Round the Mountain Trail in Camden, ME. By the time we were done I could identify a half-dozen or more types of ferns, and I had to grudgingly agree with Steve. Bracken fronds branch out from a single stem. Here in the northeast, where ferns die back in winter, bracken doesn’t have the height or deep sweep of their Scottish kin. Either these were cinnamon ferns, or I can’t draw. The latter is simply ridiculous so I’ve renamed the painting.

Some of my little fronds along the Round the Mountain Trail.

I walk and paint the Boreal Life Trail every time I’m in the ADK. It combines many things I love: a distant mountain peak, balsam firs, tamaracks, and carnivorous plants. This stand of ferns waxes and wanes, but takes up at least a quarter acre, just where the bog touches the woods.

In the fall, ferns are clothed in a wide variety of colors.

While it’s always cool and green at that point, I felt the need to introduce some hot colors. It’s amazing how many colors you can throw at a monochromatic subject and still not lose the gist of it. Obviously, even cinnamon ferns are uniformly green, but I’ve made them an abstract riot of greens and peaches and pinks and teals. By raising the key and dropping the chroma in the background, I have tried to convey the steamy air of a bog in midsummer.

Ferns reproduce asexually, which seems like a really bad idea to me.

The only other thing I know about ferns is that a fiddlehead is just a furled young fern of any type. There are fiddleheads you can eat, and then there are fiddleheads you ought not, because they can be toxic. Cinnamon ferns are edible, bracken ferns are not… unless I have that backwards. As I’ve demonstrated my inability to tell ferns apart, I think I’ll stick with salad mix from Hannaford. Anyways, ferns are perennials; they need their frond-noses more than I do.

My 2024 workshops:

Pride goeth before a fall

Early Spring on Beech Hill, oil on canvasboard, Carol L. Douglas, 12X16, $1449 framed includes shipping in continental US.

On our way to Erickson Fields, my husband exclaimed, “We forgot our cleats! Should I go back?” I’d walked our usual 4.5-mile hill trek on Sunday and it wasn’t terrible. Besides, I was in a hurry.

The trails that converge on the top of Beech Hill are very popular. In the summer, that means you go as early as possible. In winter, foot traffic polishes the trails to a glossy finish. It was especially bad Monday morning; I’d made the wrong choice.

Athabasca Glacier, 14X18, oil on linen, $1275 includes shipping and handling in the continental US.

“It’s like walking on the Columbia Icefield, but worse,” I grumbled. But I’m an experienced old bird, and I carefully picked my way to the top.

“I managed to not fall,” I said gleefully as we crossed back into Erickson Fields. “In fact, I haven’t fallen one time this whole year.” Which was stupid, since it’s always the downhill slope that gets you. Sure enough, a second later I was flat on my back on the ice. To add insult to injury, I did it a second time. That kind of pain takes a day to kick in but 48 hours later, everything hurts, including my fingernails.

I had a very tight schedule. I would work with Laura (my IT and PR person) until 2, take a break to paint woodwork until 4, and then set up a demo for my Zoom class on color bridges. We have new furniture coming for our guest room, and this house has never had the upstairs floors properly painted in its 125 years of existence. Thrifty New Englanders, they left the parts covered by area rugs as raw wood, with painted borders like monks’ tonsures.  I reckoned that if I did the woodwork on Monday, above the chair rail Tuesday night, below on Wednesday, and the floor on Thursday, I’d finish it just under my self-imposed deadline.

Mountain Path, oil on archival canvasboard, 11X14, $1087.00 framed includes shipping and handling in continental US.

“I can’t handle this pace,” I told myself, and then stopped and berated myself for being so negative. “Of course I can. I’m not tired and everything’s ticking along like clockwork.”

That’s when I got a message from a student in my new drawing class, which meets Mondays, 1-4. “I’ll be ready as soon as I get this cat off my lap,” she wrote.

“What?” I spluttered. “We don’t start until next week-do we?”

Turns out that the class, for which I’d done no marketing and no prep, did indeed start on Monday. Pride goeth before a fall, indeed.

Drawing is the bedrock on which painting rests, and if you can’t draw, you’ll have a hard time painting. I’m teaching this class because I need my painting students to be good draftsmen. I’ve got the four students I’d earmarked as needing it, but there’s still a lot of open space. If you think you’d benefit, I’m prorating the fee and making the video from Week 1 available, so you won’t miss anything. Our subjects are:

  • Basic measurement
  • Perspective
  • Volume and form
  • Drapery and clothing
  • Drawing the human face
  • Trees and rocks

You can register here.

Winter lambing, oil on linen, 30X40, $5072 framed, includes shipping and handling in continental US.


Before I forget, I’m also offering a four-week critique class starting on February 19. Your job is to paint during the week, and our mutual job is to analyzing our work based on the standard canon of design elements. This is not a touchy-feely class in any way; it’s meant to give you the tools to analyze your own paintings without falling victim to your emotions. I’ve taught this many times and my students have always been polite, enthusiastic and supportive, so there’s no reason to be nervous.

You can register here.

My 2024 workshops:

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, 6X8, oil on archival canvasboard, $435 framed.

As I look at this painting through the mists of time, I wonder when was the last time I stayed up until midnight on a New Year’s Eve. No matter what the text on the painting page says, it’s 35 years if it’s a day. Now, I’m frankly too old to party except with my grandchildren, whose bedtimes are not much later than mine.

Said grandchildren (and their parents) are here for New Year’s Eve. This weekend, my other children will arrive so we can celebrate Christmas and the New Year together.

The beads in this painting came from Mardi Gras in New Orleans, brought back by my friend Karolina. The hat and noisemaker were left in my studio by a student, then a teenager, now pushing middle age. And the purple velvet and feather boa? They are mine alone. As ratty as I look while painting, I do like bling on occasion.

My favorite part of this painting is the gold lettering on the hat. If I didn’t point out that it read “Happy New Year” would you notice?

This is the last weekend that you can take December discounts. They are:

  • 10% off any painting, with the code THANKYOUPAINTING10.
  • $25 off any workshop except Sedona, with the code, EARLYBIRD

Believe it or not, Sedona and Austin are right around the corner!

My 2024 workshops:

Best Buds

Best Buds, 11X14, oil on canvasboard, $1087 framed includes shipping and handling in continental US.

I’ve painted two paintings of spinning children’s rides, Best Buds, above, and Tilt-A-Whirl. Both were an attempt to capture something of the innocence of carnival rides and the warm summer days of our youth.

Occasionally, someone will question whether I did them from life, because they think it’s impossible to paint something spinning. It is doable, although it can be dizzying.

The Adirondack Carousel, which is the subject of this painting, is in Saranac Lake, NY. It features hand-carved woodland animals from the Adirondack Mountains. It was the brainchild of local woodcarver Karen Loffler and took twelve years, countless volunteer hours, and $1.3 million in locally-raised funds.

The result is indistinguishable in craftsmanship from the great carousels that were produced in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Yet it’s distinctly local, and clearly beloved by children. John Deer, on the left in my picture, is a particular favorite. The kids told me so.

The pavilion has 24 handcrafted wildlife animals, eighteen of which are on duty at any one time. Do I have a favorite? How could I, when they’re all so perfect? (You can see them here.) I think the black bear, decked out in the colors of the Hudson’s Bay Company point blanket, captured my attention first. But each animal has its own particular charm-except maybe the black fly.

There’s a wheelchair accessible ride in the form of a Chris Craft boat. The overhead scenes of Saranac Lake were painted by local artists (including my friend Sandra Hildreth), as were the floral medallions. A local blacksmith made the weathervane and a local carpenter built the ticket counter. The building was painted and stained by volunteers. The result is distinctly local, happy, and very Adirondack.

The girl is a complete invention, vaguely reminiscent of a kid I knew in Maine named Meredith Lewis (who is now a willowy, beautiful teenager). I debated on the title for quite a while, finally settling on Best Buds. Even if my girl is riding the otter, her heart belongs to John Deer.

Best Buds is oil on archival canvasboard, 11X14 and is in elegant Canadian-made frame with wooden fillet. It lists at $1087, but you can have 10% off it (or any other painting) by using the code THANKYOUPAINTING10.

My 2024 workshops:

What is art?

This 9X12 painting of spring blossoms in Thomaston is one of four paintings I delivered to the Red Barn Gallery in Thomaston. They’ll be there until August 6, 2023.

‘What is art?’ is a deceptively simple question. I come down hard on the argument that art is any creative impulse that is utterly useless in practical terms. Art is created primarily for aesthetic, intellectual or expressive purposes. It evokes emotions, conveys ideas and, hopefully, provokes thought.

Craft, on the other hand, is traditionally used to describe work that serves a practical purpose. Of course, the line between art and craft is hopelessly vague and jagged. There was no legitimate purpose served by the exquisite illumination of the Lindisfarne Gospels; the stories were read out to an audience who probably couldn’t read and never had a chance to look at the pictures. The illumination was just a celebration of the magnificence of the Good News. But we call those unknown artists ‘medieval craftsmen.’

Red House, Monhegan, 12X16, oil on canvas, is one of four paintings I delivered to Red Barn Gallery in Port Clyde. They’ll be there until August 6.

In late medieval Europe, tapestry was the central, most expensive figurative medium. Tapestries often showed complicated Biblical, allegorical or historical scenes. They were full of beautifully drawn figures in well-drafted settings.

These immense wall hangings were made in large workshops under the aegis of a master artist. Their production was not materially different from the painting workshops that would follow in the Renaissance. However, tapestry was based on two very practical crafts, weaving and needlework. We’ve further muddied the waters by assuming that the magnificent tapestries of our ancestors were primarily to keep drafts down. We call tapestry a craft, even though its technical demands are at least equal to those of painting.

Hans Holbein traipsed all over Europe to paint portraits of prospective brides for Henry VIII. (The king was terribly disappointed in Anne of Cleves when he saw her in the flesh, so much that the marriage was unconsummated. But he was the only person who thought her homely, so we’ll never know if Holbein flattered her or if Henry was unreasonable.)

Holbein’s paintings were made for a highly practical application, but they’re among the great paintings of the western canon. Nobody would call them craft.

Rockport Opera House, 14X18, is one of four paintings I delivered to Red Barn Gallery in Port Clyde. They’ll be there until August 6.

Consider three tiny figurines, exactly the same. The first was made as a doll for a child. It’s by our modern lights a craft object. The second was made to cast a spell upon an unlucky recipient. That’s also a craft object. The third was made for no reason other than that its maker thought it was a good idea. That’s an art object.

I may not like a Maurizio Cattelan‘s Comedian (the infamous banana taped to a wall) but it provoked a response and a lot of conversation. That’s one of the fundamental purposes of art. Could I have enraged as many people with a landscape painting? Hardly.

A large part of the game Warhammer 40,000 is painting miniatures. Is that a craft, because it’s for a game, or art, because it’s totally useless? Is building a model of Frederic Church‘s Olana in The Sims, as my daft daughter is doing, art or craft?

I’ve spent a few weeks at the Red Barn Gallery in Port Clyde contemplating a vivid and sublime Eric Jacobsen painting. It has been a true aesthetic pleasure. Beauty is something both traditional art and craft do magnificently. It’s something a banana taped to the wall (and much other modern art) fail at. To divorce aesthetics from art is as foolish as trying to draw a line between art and craft.

We’d love to have you enter this year’s 10X10 show. Details below.

Speaking of the Red Barn Gallery, intake for the annual 10X10 show starts this Thursday. It’s a juried show that runs from August 11-September 1. Artists can submit up to three works, and the fee is $15/per submission. The application form is here.

I’ll be there on Thursday, and I’d love to see you!

My 2024 workshops:

Your daily rejection

In Control (Grace and her Unicorn), 24X30, $3,478, oil on canvas.

Eric Jacobsen sent me a cartoon. A little boy is drawing on the kitchen floor. “Thank you for your submission,” it reads. “We regret to inform you that your work was not selected for the fridge.”

The late great real estate columnist Edith Lank was eulogized in her hometown newspaper yesterday. “She understood that the way to get to 100 newspapers was to write to 500,” said her son, Avrum Lank. “She wrote letters and letters and letters. Her father told her to paper her the walls of her bedroom with her rejection letters.”

We hate rejection, but it’s a fact of life in the arts. The disappointment varies. I don’t have much emotional investment in most national shows (except that the entry fees chip away at my bottom line). But when I was rejected last year from a local event I’ve done many years running, my distress was brutal.

Michelle Reading, oil on linen, 24X30, $3478

Process your emotions

‘It happens to all of us’ or ‘jurying is subjective’ wasn’t that helpful at that moment. What I needed was my utterly loyal pal who said, “They must be total idiots.” We both know that isn’t true, but there was time later for self-analysis.

I once received an incredibly nasty newspaper review. In retrospect, I wish I’d saved it. It is so rare for an individual artist to be trashed in a group show that I must have hit a nerve somehow.

At the time, though, I was in a slough of despair. I called my friend Toby and cried on her shoulder. That’s the normal human reaction to rejection. What’s important is what we do after that.

Rejection is a part of life

Some artists reject the hurly-burly of the marketplace entirely. That may be less scary now, but ultimately it means no growth. We experience rejection when we push limits.

Best Buds, 11X14, oil on canvasboard, $1087 framed

Don’t get wrapped up in your disappointment

We’ve all heard the expression, “Get back on the horse that threw you.” The longer we dwell on a failure, the bigger that failure looms. There’s a national show I coveted. I was rejected the first year, when a friend was the juror. After that, I applied every year, knowing the odds were stacked against me. Imagine my surprise when I was accepted.

Healthy habits help us surf over bad times. After I was done crying at Toby, I took my daily walk, fed the kids and sent them off to school, and went back to my studio. The rhythm of my day had a soothing effect.

Pinkie, pastel, ~6X8, $435 framed.

Rejection doesn’t define you

The art market is huge. There are times I look at work and wonder, “who on earth would buy that?” And yet, almost every idea has a corresponding following. If that show or gallery doesn’t love you, someone else does.

Learn from the experience

I recently kvetched at Colin Page that the last time I painted something I liked was in 1990. This is the season where we’re applying to upcoming shows and suddenly nothing in our portfolio pleases us.

Later, sorting paintings in my studio, I realized this throwaway comment was a red flag to myself. In 1990, I was shooting pictures of my work with an SLR. Today I use my cell phone. What I don’t like now is the bad quality of my photos, not the work itself.

My 2024 workshops:

Perfect is the enemy of good

Mudflats. It's a start.

This blog was on Google’s Blogger from 2007 until the present (with a short hiatus during which it was hosted by the Bangor Daily News). Blogger is a simple platform, but in 2021, it suspended support of its RSS web feed. That meant that people could no longer subscribe.

After consulting with the usual experts, I determined that it was sensible to bring it in-house, onto my own website. I have a tenuous relationship with my website—it’s a large beast that I placate by throwing content over the fence and then quickly running away.

Importing 15 years of blog posts was way above my skillset. In May, I wrote about hiring an expert. Unfortunately, she finished just as I started my hike across England. It was easier to just keep writing on Blogger. The posts piled up. I didn’t dare ask Deepika to do another import, so yesterday I finally sat down and moved the remaining mess on my own.

Drying sails in Camden harbor. We're taking practice shots before Camden on Canvas.

It’s not elegant. I’ve had 15 years to make Blogger look exactly as I want—font, header, nested links, advertising. But it’s done, and as of today, you should be getting this feed in your mailbox if you’re subscribed. And if you’re not, you can subscribe … oh, darn, the subscription box has migrated away again. Another task for Deepika, until I can master this interface.

When my father was 63, he was secure in his expertise, partially because there was a secretary who did all the technical stuff for him. When my grandfather was 63, he was dead. In contrast, my husband and I spend inordinate amounts of time and effort mastering new technology. In almost every field, we’re barraged by new information and equipment.

Apple Blossom Time, 9x12, oil on canvasboard, $696 unframed. I painted this with Eric Jacobsen last summer.

There are two lessons here, both of which I think are hopeful. The first is that, at 63, I see no sign of mental exhaustion or slippage. All this struggle is keeping me mentally agile.

The second is… oh, shoot, I forgot the second.

It’s summer, so I go out in the morning and painting for a few hours. Then I head home and open my gallery. It’s exactly the right amount of time for a good start. Last week I painted with Ken DeWaard. I painted an absolute stinker. This week, Björn Runquist and I have been practicing our chip shots together and mine have gotten better.

Spring Greens, 8X10, oil on canvasboard, $522 unframed.

“How can you be rusty?” my husband, who’s a bass player, asked me. “Isn’t painting a mental skill?” Painting and music are both combinations of the mental and the physical, and the two are closely intertwined.

Are my painting starts perfect? Heck, no. Do they show promise? Yes.

Oh, yeah, that was my second point: it doesn’t matter if my blog or paintings are good or bad. They won’t get better unless I actually work on them.